Cowboys position breakdown: O-line

January, 29, 2014
Jan 29
2:00
PM ET
Cowboys reporters Calvin Watkins and Todd Archer breakdown the Cowboys, position by position, analyzing what the players did in 2013, what they can do in the future and what the team can do to improve the position in 2014.

Under contract: Tyron Smith, Darrion Weems, Ronald Leary, Travis Frederick, Phil Costa, Mackenzy Bernadeau, Doug Free and Jermey Parnell.

A look back: Smith earned a Pro Bowl berth at left tackle and Frederick emerged as a solid first-round pick at center. Bernadeau and Leary produced solid seasons and Free, after taking a pay cut, was worth keeping around. The line was a strength overall for the Cowboys and it didn't start that way. In training camp there were questions about the durability of some players, Nate Livings, Bernadeau and Parnell battled injuries and it prompted the team to sign Brian Waters days before the start of the regular season. Waters was solid until a triceps injury ended his season. Bernadeau regained his starting job at right guard and played better than expected. Smith was just a dominant force on the left side and there was a confidence in the interior when quarterback Tony Romo stepped up in the pocket.

A look ahead: Depth is always a concern and while Smith and Frederick have bright futures, there are two starters -- Free and Leary -- who enter the final year of their contracts. Leary avoided knee issues last season and Free performed better in his second-year under line coach Bill Callahan. Should they get contract extensions? Waters was given credit for bringing a toughness and a higher level of play to the line, but he'll be 37 next season and it's probably best to let him go. Costa handled his backup role professionally after battling through injuries in 2012 while the starter. It will be interesting to see if Weems and Parnell can push Free in training camp to win a starting job.

A look out: The salary-cap-tight Cowboys don't need to look at free agency here. Getting another guard through the draft might be worth looking at. There is youth along the line with Leary, Frederick, Bernadeau and Smith all under 30. Free is 30 but he's proved to be a durable player. Nothing wrong with upgrading the talent through the draft which is something the team will probably do.

Position breakdown:

Quarterbacks
Running backs
Tight ends
Wide receivers
Defensive line

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